At UWC, some star athletes are doing this balancing act, and will graduate with degrees at the Autumn Graduation Ceremony this week.
Among them is sprinter Rodwell Ndlovu, the former chairperson of the UWC Sports Council and vice- president of University Sport South Africa (Ussa).
Ndlovu, who is also an ambassador for International University Sport and a 2015 All Africa Games bronze medallist in the 400m, will graduate cum laude with his Master’s in population studies and statistics.
Cape Cobras right-arm fast bowler Lizaad Williams will be graduating with a BA degree.
During the same graduation ceremony, UWC Varsity Cup rugby team captain Adrian Paarwater obtained his BA degree, as well as teammates Clayton Daniels, and Mark Bright.
Springbok women’s rugby star Babalwa Latsha will graduate, along with the chairperson of the Sports Council, Olivia Williams - both with their LLB degrees.
Ussa’s Sevens rugby star Verno Treu and his UWC 7s rugby teammate Daniel Bock are also graduating.
UWC hockey player Robyn Burrows, who completed her BA sports, recreation and exercise science (SRES)degree last year with a summa cum laude, will be graduating cum laude with her BA honours in biokinetics.
Hockey stars also graduating are Suhayra Dollie (BAdmin), Okuhle Cwala (BA), Irma Human (BEd), Matthew Steyl (LLB) and Kaitlin Eaton (BA SRES).
Men’s hockey team manager, Mahlangabeza Jordan, graduates with a BSc in sport science.
UWC rector and vice-chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius congratulated the graduating athletes.
“We are producing a new generation of sportsmen and women for South Africa. They will have something to fall back on when they are no longer able to participate in sport. In the past we have seen some tragic stories about our heroes of yesteryear, who went to professional sport without having any qualification.
‘‘We are creating a new and different kind of sportsmen and women, where we insist that you are at UWC primarily to obtain a qualification, and secondly to participate in sport. For many of our students, sport is actually the only means for them to access higher education.”
UWC sport director Mandla Gagayi said a professional athlete’s sports career is a maximum of 15 years.
“As such, we are happy when we see athletes leave UWC with a degree to fall back on when their days as competitive athletes are over.
“They came to UWC with the objective to study, then play. They must never deviate from that objective and must use sport to enhance their academic endeavours.”